President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is approaching a new, potentially more dangerous phase after a month of fighting has left Russian forces stalled by an outnumbered foe. He is left with stark choices — how and where to replenish his spent ground forces, whether to attack the flow of Western arms to Ukrainian defenders, and at what cost he might escalate or widen the war.
Despite failing to score a quick victory, Putin is not relenting in the face of mounting international pressure, including sanctions that have battered his economy. The Western world is aligned largely against Putin, but there have been no indications he is losing support from the majority of the Russian public that relies predominantly on state-controlled TV for information.
Ukrainian defenders, outgunned but benefitting from years of American and NATO training and an accelerating influx of foreign arms and moral support, are showing new signs of confidence as the invading force struggles to regroup.
Russian shortcomings in Ukraine might be the biggest shock of the war so far. After two decades of modernization and professionalization, Putin’s forces have proved to be ill-prepared, poorly coordinated and surprisingly stoppable. The extent of Russian troop losses is not known in detail, although NATO estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 have died in the first four weeks — potentially as many as Russia lost in a decade of war in Afghanistan.